Date of publication
Hutchinson & Co
Cook, Marjorie Grant. ‘Jill’. The Times Literary Supplement, no. 1281, 19 Aug. 1926, p. 548; Dawson-Scott, C. A. ‘Facile Princeps’. The Bookman, Oct. 1926, pp. 42–43; Hartley, L. P. ‘New Fiction: Jill’. Saturday Review, Aug. 1926, p. 208.
Oliver and Cathie Galbraith live very comfortably in Chelsea Park Gardens; Oliver is a stockbroker. Cathie is thirty, childless, and satisfied with her civilised life, although she is concerned that their marriage is merely affectionate rather than passionate. They go to dinner with friends, the Brayfields, whose daughter Maura is making her social debut. The Brayfields plan to separate once Maura is married. Lord Brayfield asks Cathie whether she and Oliver know Jack Brayfield, a second cousin of Oliver's, who is out of work. Cathie persuades Oliver to see Jack. Doreen and Jack Galbraith are living in a hotel where they get their room, if not their meals and drinks, free because they lend tone; they are living mostly on credit, having no definite income at all, and living as high as possible. Doreen accepts free meals from admirers; Jack is in search of a job, but has little hope; he and his contemporaries have returned from the Great War to find that there is no work for them. Jack has a contact, Howard Henry Maxted (Max), who is developing a business extracting oil from Cornish shale near a village called Salt St Mary. The four Galbraiths dine together; Doreen is bored by Cathie, and Cathie by her. Jack tries to interest Oliver in the Salt St Mary oil scheme, but Oliver is not tempted. Jack finds that Doreen has accepted loans of money, and presents, from Fonseca, a South American admirer. Cathie speaks of her dislike of Doreen, and is offended when Oliver suggests it is hard to be interested in people of the non-dramatic type. Oliver reflects that he is bored by Cathie's claims on him and his innermost thoughts. Jack and Max visit Oliver at his office, and try to interest him in the oil shale scheme. He demurs, but when Jack confesses that he and Doreen are living hand to mouth, Oliver agrees to visit Salt St Mary to see things for himself. At the hotel in Salt St Mary, Oliver is met by Jacqueline Morrell, a girl who looks fifteen but is eighteen. Jacqueline is the daughter of Pansy Morrell, currently living in a Salt St Mary bungalow owned by Max. Jacqueline tells Oliver of her peripatetic upbringing. Oliver meets Pansy with Max and Jack at the bungalow; she is glamorous but Oliver finds her hard-looking and risqué, the antithesis of Cathie, and her house is dirty and stuffy. Jacqueline, he finds, is also known by the nickname Jill. Doreen hears from her mother who is returning to England, having lost money gambling; Doreen wishes her mother would make over her inheritance to her now, rather than paying an allowance. She and Jack discuss going abroad to find work, but Doreen is convinced that they should stay in London. Jack thinks that Max will ask them to look after Jacqueline in London; Doreen is keen to pursue this if they will be paid. Jack is worried that Max may have some sinister plans for making use of Jacqueline. Maura Conway test-drives a car with Jack, who may earn commission from the garage if she buys it. They drive to Esher, Maura driving and boasting of her prowess at acting and dancing. Jack tries to explain to her why he needs - and cannot get - proper work, but Maura is incomprehending of poverty and of the effects of the war, which happened when she was in the nursery. They have tea, for which Jack is unable to pay, but Maura steps in. Maura's father buys her the car, and Jack receives his commission. Doreen and Max have agreed that Jacqueline should come to London, stay at the hotel with the Galbraiths, and Doreen will take her about and help her to choose her clothes. Jacqueline meets them at a dance; Doreen finds her pretty, and Jack thinks her a good dancer, but she is naive and innocent and will, both can see, never be smart. Jacqueline is less naive in conversation when she appears, however, and is rather proud of her mother's demi-mondaine career. She misses her dog, Chips, who has been left behind at Salt St Mary. The couple agree to call her Jill, because of Jack Galbraith's forename. Jacqueline/Jill turns out to be a curious mixture of innocent childishness and shrewd maturity. Doreen and Jack discuss the possibility of separating, Doreen asserting that she could do a lot better for herself now if she were free, and that in five years her looks will have gone and it will be too late. Jack refuses to consider a divorce, on the grounds that it costs money. Cathie Galbraith rings Doreen, and ends up speaking to Jacqueline; she has tickets for Hedda Gabler. Doreen is not keen to go and Jacqueline agrees to go, and lunch with Cathie first. Jacqueline amuses herself by walking in Kensington Gardens and trying to magnetise strange men into following her; she has never been kissed, but is frequently amused by things other people might think wrong. She remembers the difficulties of life with Pansy, the frequent loss of servants during which Jacqueline took over the housekeeping; she prefers the luxury of the hotel, where she has made friends with the chambermaids. Max gives her ten pounds to buy a new outfit for the theatre; she spends three, and plans to save the rest, until Doreen realises she has cash; Jacqueline agrees to lend three pounds, knowing it will not be returned. Meeting Cathie, Jacqueline realises that there is a classic perfection of style that she has never encountered before. Cathie is amused by Jacqueline, although rather shocked by her frank reminiscences of her mother's way of life, and considers her uncivilised, if showing signs of native intelligence. Jacqueline is very engaged by the play, and forms her own definite interpretations of it. Cathie gives her tea, and suggest that Jacqueline invite herself again. They discuss Jack, and Jacqueline tells Cathie that she finds him two-dimensional. Doreen has seen her mother, who gave her an old-fashioned fur coat but no money; Jacqueline does not get her loan back. Doreen and Jacqueline quarrel when one of Doreen's admirers takes too great an interest in Jacqueline, and again when Jacqueline covers for Doreen when she spends time with Fonseca. When Doreen insults Pansy, Jacqueline determines to leave the hotel and go to Cathie Galbraith. Cathie invites her to stay for a day or two, and Jacqueline is amazed by the luxury of Cathie's spare room. Jacqueline joins their dinner guests, Lord Bradfield and Maura; Jacqueline is quietly surprised by Maura's lack of poise, and sticks up for Jack Galbraith when he is criticised. Cathie buys Jacqueline some clothes, and tries to correct her use of language; Cathie is profoundly shocked and distressed to discover that Jacqueline has not been washing her clothes properly; this upsets her more than she feels is necessary, and has dinner upstairs. At dinner, Oliver and Jacqueline discuss Max and Jacqueline points out that Oliver and Cathie have no experience of financial insecurity. Oliver offers to take Jacqueline to the cinema, but she suggests going to the fair on Hampstead Heath. They go by bus to Hampstead and ride on the flying swings; Oliver enjoys himself very much. Cathie criticises Jacqueline for taking Oliver to the fair, but Oliver asserts again that he enjoyed himself and also enjoyed Jacqueline's company. Cathie and Oliver discuss their planned summer holiday in Scotland and what to do with Jacqueline; Cathie is keen to have her trained for some sort of work. Oliver encourages the still tired and emotional Cathie to see her doctor, where she discovers, as she had suspected, that she is pregnant. Oliver is pleased, and offers to despatch Jacqueline, but Cathie asks for her to stay on. Cathie finds herself at the mercy of her emotions during her pregnancy and is disappointed that her women friends cannot share her spiritual excitement at the idea of having a child. Jacqueline is more understanding, and turns out to have assisted at the birth of a child while staying at a pension in Neuilly. Jacqueline asserts that she is interested in everything, even the stupid and the vulgar, and contradicts Cathie when she says these aspects of life do not have the same value. Cathie decides not to go to Scotland, but urges Oliver to go anyway, although he would be happy to stay at home; Cathie is hoping that he will insist on staying with her, but he does not. Jacqueline stays on with her in London. After Oliver returns, Jacqueline suggests that she should think of making arrangements to move soon. He and Cathie discuss it; Cathie hopes that he will say he wants to be alone with her during the last stage of her pregnancy, but he does not. Cathie goes suddenly into labour and her child is stillborn. Doreen sees the news of the stillbirth in The Times and tells Jack. She and Jack are again very short of money and quarrelling. Doreen is spending more time with Fonseca, and their bills are mounting. Jack agrees to call on Cathie, and sees Jacqueline again; he realises for the first time how pretty she is. They discuss Max, and the oil shale scheme; Jacqueline tells Jack she is sure Oliver will not invest in it, but that Oliver is keen to find Jack a job. Oliver considers his marriage, and realises that he cannot get near enough to his wife to comfort her, and he is averse to the greater emotional intimacy which Cathie now requires; he contrasts himself with Jacqueline's vitality and finds himself inadequate. Cathie gets up for the first time, and they discuss Jacqueline; both like her, but Cathie finds she could be improved in several ways. Jacqueline tells Oliver that her mother will come up to London shortly, and will be expecting Jacqueline to join her. Oliver suggests that they spend Jacqueline's last night at Chelsea Park Gardens going out; Jacqueline shares with him some of Pansy's theories about men. Oliver tells Cathie that Jacqueline will be leaving and that he has promised to take her out; Cathie reminds him that the following night, she will be coming downstairs for dinner. Oliver is distraught that he had forgotten this and also very disappointed not to be able to spend the evening with Jacqueline. Cathie asks him to swear that he hadn't forgotten she was coming downstairs; Oliver swears, but Cathie does not believe him and cries, saying that she wants him to care for her. Oliver is distressed, but reminds Cathie that she has been very ill, and suggests, realising that Cathie is jealous, that Jacqueline has been with them for too long. Jacqueline goes to Pansy's hotel, and meets Max; she asks after her dog again, and Max suggests she go to fetch him before the Salt St Mary house is sold. Max and Pansy have quarrelled. Pansy arrives, and they go back to Pansy's usual routine of dining out and nightclubs. Jacqueline sees Maura Conway at a nightclub; Maura tells her that Doreen has left Jack for Fonseca. Jacqueline writes Jack a note and walks to Kensington to deliver it the next day; she considers the effect of the war on Jack and Doreen's generation and how Jack has lost his spiritual values as well as his material assets. Jack, she finds, has left the hotel and there is no address for him, although Doreen has moved to Claridge's. Jacqueline decides to go down to Salt St Mary and pack the last of Pansy's belongings and fetch Chips. Salt St Mary is dark and foggy when she arrives, and the village is deserted. The bungalow seems deserted and Jacqueline finds that Chips is locked in the coal shed. She finds a hurricane lamp, still warm, and realises that someone is in the house. Rescuing the dog from the coal shed, she sees a faint light in an upstairs room. It is Max, who asks her to swear that she has not seen him there that evening. Max is leaving, secretly, by boat, and waiting for the tide. Jacqueline cooks them a makeshift supper and Max tells her about the end of Jack and Doreen's marriage. Max asks to borrow money from Jacqueline, and she gives him what she has; Max leaves the house at eleven. Going to bed, Jacqueline hears a noise from upstairs and realises someone else is in the house. Opening a door, she finds a gas-filled room and Jack Galbraith crawling towards an open window; the gas is turned off. Jack tells her he had left the tap on; Jacqueline realises that Max has turned the gas off and opened the window, but cannot tell Jack this. Jack tells her about his marriage, explains how he came to have so little money, and his frustrated attempts to find work. As Jack talks, Jacqueline realises that he is coming to life, sounding three-dimensional. They sit up all night and Jack talks of his childhood and the war. Jack and Jacqueline go back to London on the train, with the dog. On returning to Pansy's hotel, they find that she has gone away without notice. Jack realises that Jacqueline is in love with him. He takes her to Chelsea Park Gardens, and Cathie is puzzled, but asks Jacqueline to stay. Jack takes charge of Chips. Jacqueline is distressed about Jack, thinking that he will disappear from her life again; Cathie tells her that Oliver thinks he has found him a job in the near East. Oliver confirms this when he returns to the house. Cathie makes arrangements for Jacqueline to stay at a hostel for girls and to train for a job. Jacqueline is not happy with the idea and wonders what will happen to Chips. Jack comes to dinner, and tells her that he will go to Constantinople after spending six months in the company's London office. Oliver suggests that Jacqueline could get a job in the city, and she is pleased that she might have the option of working for men rather than women. When Jack leaves, Jacqueline and Oliver walk him to his bus stop. Oliver disappears, discreetly, and Jack praises Jacqueline but hopes that she will find happiness with someone else; he suggests it would be better for them not to meet again, but kisses her goodbye. Jacqueline moves to the hostel with her dog; Cathie, realising her love for Jack Galbraith, is enthusiastic about her new room and opportunities. Oliver and Cathie discuss her love for Jack, which Cathie disapproves of. Cathie rings the hostel, and hears that Jacqueline is settling in and has started attending secretarial training. A few months later, Cathie gets a letter from Jacqueline saying that she is leaving the hostel and going away with Jack, who is now free to marry her. Oliver comes home and reports that he has seen the couple, now married, off on the ferry from Tilbury. Cathie cries, feeling that Jacqueline has thrown herself away. Oliver tries to explain to Cathie that Jacqueline's life experience, her ability to value both sides of life, and to be positive, will make her life a success, and that Jacqueline's faith and vitality have recreated Jack as a three-dimensional, vital person.
marriage masculinity novel